For Your Consideration: Documentary Oscar Hopeful

December 20 26

This year, 147 nonfiction films officially qualified for the Best Documentary Oscar. After a preliminary round of voting, members of the Academy’s Documentary Branch whittled that list down to just 15. For one week only, Film Society presents all 15 of the shortlisted titles for your consideration. The five nominees will be announced on January 16.

20 Feet From Stardom



Tue, Dec 24

Howard Gilman Theater

20 Feet From Stardom
Morgan Neville, 2013
USA | 91 minutes

Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names. In his compelling new film 20 Feet From Stardom, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.

These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras of popular music, but each has a uniquely fascinating and personal story to share of life spent in the shadows of superstardom. Along with rare archival footage and a peerless soundtrack, Twenty Feet From Stardom boasts intimate interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and Sting to name just a few. However, these world-famous figures take a backseat to the diverse array of backup singers whose lives and stories take center stage in the film.

Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

The 51st New York Film Festival Is as Varied as Its Hometown


Grand Theft Auto V is coming to NYFF Convergence with two panels and a live concert

September 27 – October 13

Film Society of Lincoln Center – Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

144 W. 65th St.
New York, NY 10133


This multiscreen theater located on Lincoln Center’s campus houses two theaters and an amphitheater for lectures, panels, and educational programs. The larger theater, the 150 seat Francesca Beale Theater shows special releases while the much smaller, 90-seat Howard Gilman Theater screens new releases and special programs.


By Aaron Hillis

Last year’s New York Film Festival may have celebrated its golden anniversary, but the 51st edition—launching half a century plus a couple weeks after Lincoln Center’s inaugural fest—has distinctively, determinedly expanded in breadth, offering the closest NYFF has come to a something-for-every-cineast saturnalia. Among the bevy of sidebars alone are “Revivals” (11 little-screened repertory picks, including two by Holy Motors auteur Leos Carax), “Applied Science” (three docs based on ambitious non-film projects, like Google’s digitization of every book ever written), “Motion Portraits” (eight of those; don’t miss the austerely magical cable car curiosity Manakamana), “Emerging Artists” (spotlighting three features each from Mexico’s Fernando Eimbcke and the U.K.’s Joanna Hogg), plus the return of “Views from the Avant-Garde,” featuring a whopping 45 blocks of radical mind-benders.

Largely plucked off the prestigious vines of Cannes, Venice, Locarno, and Berlin, over half of this year’s record-breaking 36 main slate titles represent new work from returning NYFF filmmakers such as Catherine Breillat (Abuse of Weakness), Arnaud Desplechin (Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian), Jia Zhangke (A Touch of Sin), and Spike Jonze (closing-night selection Her). It’s a sucker’s game to find rhyming themes among this wisely curated lot of formalist documentaries, one-man thrillers, period dramas, and modern comedies, so just imagine programmers Kent Jones, Dennis Lim, Marian Masone, Gavin Smith, and Amy Taubin have locked down a Netflix-style algorithm called “Masterworks and Other Bold Cinematic Visions, Minus That Mediocre Alan Partridge Farce, That You Didn’t Have to Fly to Europe to See.” With an unsurprisingly measured ratio of challenging slow-burners to red-carpet–friendly crowd-pleasers, it’s business as usual, just more so.

The action kicks off September 27 with the world premiere of Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips, a grimly docudramatic recount of the real-life Massachusetts seaman’s calamitous 2009 kidnapping by Somali pirates. With the director’s trademark aesthetic of handheld kineticism and punctuating zooms, this suspenseful high-seas misadventure could be seen as his third entry in some Wiki-thrills trilogy (following his similarly dour white-knucklers about historical chaos, Bloody Sunday and United 93). Politically conscious but emotionally underwhelming, Greengrass’s and screenwriter Billy Ray’s ship might have had more tug if it spent more than one scene and a couple lines of dialogue establishing how desperate motives are deeper than easy vilifications (cf. A Hijacking), but Tom Hanks—chewing through a Boston accent as the besieged Phillips—is absolutely unsinkable.

More tales of survival (uh-oh, themes are materializing): Straightforward in its storytelling and therefore a relentless, visceral experience, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave—presented here by Film Comment—tackles America’s ugly heritage of human bondage as a harrowing first-person experience without being couched in melodrama (Roots), exploitation (Mandingo) or flat-out insincerity (Django Unchained). Its dedication to authenticity and overall lack of editorializing means plenty of thoughtful year-end conversations (and cringe-inducing think pieces) about closure and reconciliation will follow, but don’t be duped by the hyperbolic who, following Telluride and Toronto, proclaimed it the one movie to cure cancer, save Christmas, or at least be the Bestest Best Picture of all time.

Forget all that hype and draw your eyes first to Jehane Noujaim’s potent doc The Square, an even more crucial, immersive, and exhilarating tale of the fight against oppression, which proves that the Egyptian Revolution didn’t end in 2011. Obviously, social media and YouTube played vital roles in the nonviolent takedown of Mubarak’s regime, but Noujaim’s intense, you-are-there observations of the passionate activists camping in Tahrir Square (including The Kite Runner star Khalid Abdalla, whose televised testimony to Anderson Cooper is enough to inspire some overturning of police cars) are more than just muckraking journalism. There’s plenty of distressing and shockingly timely footage (some shot as recently as August) that is rarely-to-never aired by American news outlets, but it doesn’t take a bullet or tear-gas pellet whizzing by the camera to frame the film as a provocative indictment of media negligence, and perhaps the limp inadequacy of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Considering the hellacious frustrations those citizens still experience, nobody had better bitch about their poor gluteal muscles after screenings of Agnieszka Holland’s Burning Bush, her Czech miniseries about political self-immolation; Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah footnote, The Last of the Unjust; or Lav Diaz’s tough-minded Dostoyevsky reimagining, Norte, the End of History—all hovering around four hours in length. So, too, does Frederick Wiseman’s terrific microscope-view of higher education’s inner workings, At Berkeley, one of the vérité godfather’s richest features yet (a mere four and a half decades after he directed High School). Culled from several weeks of refined, riveting, fixed-camera footage, Wiseman audits a class, embeds with a large-scale student protest, sits in on meetings full of exasperated, resource-challenged faculty members, witnesses a Ph.D. student retooling bionic limbs for a disabled soldier, and winds up speaking volumes about quintessentially American struggles through the institutional microcosm. Don’t miss it, even if you think you learned these lessons from the fourth season of The Wire.

There’s far too much to cover here—including gala tributes to Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett, the 12-feature-long “How Democracy Works Now” series, and a sampler for the Film Society’s forthcoming Jean-Luc Godard retrospective—but allow me to heartily recommend double features with explicit queer sex (the Palme d’Or–winning Blue is the Warmest Color and the French minimalist thriller Stranger by the Lake), fantastic soundtracks (Claire Denis’s Tindersticks-scored, unnerving noir Bastards, the Coen brothers’ ’60s-era Greenwich Village folk panorama of a talented almost-was, Inside Llewyn Davis), and giant steps forward for directors named Jim (Jarmusch’s chic, comically downbeat vampire riff, Only Lovers Left Alive, and James Gray’s formidable, old-fashioned 1920s-set melodrama, The Immigrant).

Oh, but please stop asking about Nebraska. Every festival needs their misfire to make the other programming shine brighter, but Alexander Payne’s dull-as-dirt road trip through the Midwest—as seen through the caricatured relationship between cantankerous dad Bruce Dern and his quietly incensed son Will Forte—is the kind of condescending look at funny-looking, weird-talking Americana that gives New York aesthetes a bad name.

Meet Music’s Next Superstar: Shia LaBeouf

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The 26-year-old Transformers star has thrown as many punches as he has parties, he has a rap sheet as long as his filmography, and when he’s not pissing off studio heads, he’s messing around with another guy’s girlfriend. But Shia LaBeouf may also be the most honest—and complex—actor/film director/musician alive. More than meets the eye? Damn right.

The many faces of Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf born June 11, 1986, is an American actor who became known among younger audiences as Louis Stevens in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens. LaBeouf received a Young Artist Award nomination in 2001 and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2003 for his role. He made his film debut in Holes (2003), based on the novel of the same name by Louis Sachar. In 2004, he made his directorial debut with the short film Let’s Love Hate and later directed and shot the music video for “I Never Knew You” by rapper Cage.

In 2007, LaBeouf starred in the lead role of the commercially successful films, Disturbia, and Surf’s Up. The same year he was cast in Michael Bay‘s science fiction film Transformers as Sam Witwicky, the main protagonist of the series. Despite mixed reviews, Transformers was a box office success and one of the highest grossing films of 2007. LaBeouf later appeared in it sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), both also a box office success. In 2008, he played Henry “Mutt Williams” Jones III in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise. The film was a critical and commercial success.

His other films include Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), Lawless (2012), The Company You Keep (2012) and Nymphomaniac (2013).

He directed the music video for “I Never Knew You”, a single off rapper Cage‘s third album, Depart From Me. It was shot in LA and features cameos by other Definitive Jux artists.The two will also team up to make a biopic about the rapper’s life, starring LaBeouf.  Of making the video, LaBeouf said, “I’m 22 and I’m directing my favorite rapper’s music video. This shit is better than riding unicorns.” In addition to directing the short film, MANIAC for Kid Cudi and Cage’s collaborative track he also directed and filmed Kid Cudi’s music video for “Marijuana” at the 2010 Cannabis Cup.

The now 26-year-old actor was to star opposite Alec Baldwin and Tom Sturridge in the revival of Lyle Kessler‘s 1983 play, which follows two orphaned brothers living off the proceeds of petty theft in a run-down North Philadelphia row house. LaBeouf’s role was the elder brother who supports his simple-minded younger sibling (Sturridge). One night he kidnaps an enigmatic rich man, played by Baldwin, who becomes the kind of father figure the boys have always longed for.

Weeks before previews were to begin, Shia LaBeouf dropped out of his planned Broadway debut in the play Orphans because of “creative differences.”

“I’m done,” he vented to The Hollywood Reporter last summer. “There’s no room for being a visionary in the studio system. It literally cannot exist. You give Terrence Malick a movie like Transformers, and he’s f—ed. There’s no way for him to exist in that world.”

His recent film credits include Lawless, the Robert Redford-directed The Company You Keep, and The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, in which he stars opposite Evan Rachel Wood and Melissa Leo. He also has a racy role in Lars von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac, co-starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgard.

Meet Music’s Next Superstar: Shia LaBeouf

Last week, actor and LSD-enthusiast Shia LaBeouf and synth-pop duo Future Unlimited debuted the gloomy video for “Haunted Love” directed by none other than everyone’s favorite Michael Bay leading man. LaBeouf has had many an odd foray into music video. From a thirty-minute musical of interpretive dancing to sad Icelandic piano music, let’s look back at some LaBeouf deep cuts and no longer regret that his film Disturbia and Rihanna’s song of the same name were not related.

Even Stevens

“Influenza: The Musical”

In 2002, Even Stevens did what has since become commonplace on almost every Disney series nowadays — they had the cast flex their vocal skills and participate in a musical episode. In “Influenza: The Musical,” Ren (Christy Carlson Romano) has a flu-fueled hallucination. Shia’s character Louis, the troublemaking younger brother, attempts to avoid then subsequently sings about an over-the-top physical endurance test in gym class. With his raspy pre-pubescent voice, baby Shia graces our ears with classics like “I Always Find a Way” and “I’ve Got Hot Soup…” as he begins taking his first steps into low-key involvement with the music world.

Even Stevens

“Another Perfect Day”

Getting a little Partridge, Louis and Ren join some friends to form the the Twitty-Stevens Connection a few episodes after they just couldn’t stop breaking out in song. This time, Shia’s Louis is a drummer who encourages the band to play on the school’s roof. Shenanigans ensue and it ends with this stereotypically Disney tune and its feel-good message.


“Dig It” by The D-Tent Boys

Oh, you thought he could only kind of sing? Enter #RAPGAMELABEOUF in a film based off every ten-year-old’s favorite fifth grade reading assignment, Holes. Having started being typecast as a good guy caught in bad situations early, Shia takes on the role of Stanley Yelnats, who finds himself in a juvenile detention camp run by Warrant Officer Ripley and Angelina Jolie’s dad, who make Stanley and the other boys dig holes every day. A bunch of other Important Things occur in both the film and book, but the most important takeaway is that Holes brought us #RAPGAMELABEOUF, and for that we’re all pretty lucky.


“The Best Look in the World”

In 2007, Shia began making his real career breakthrough as a non-child actor with starring roles in blockbusters Transformers and Disturbia after paying some acting dues in small but critically acclaimed indie flicks. Naturally, this meant he’d get a chance to host an episode of Saturday Night Live, as many an upcoming “it” star has done. Over the course of 13 months, Shia hosted not one but two episodes of the series and participated in some of the early digital shorts Andy Samberg helped create and make popular. During his second hosting gig in 2008, Shia helped sing and perform an ode to white shirt-black socks-no pants look, otherwise known as “The Best Look in the World.” It also marks the first time he let his junk air out in a video. We’ll get to the second time in a few.


“I Never Knew You”

Shia’s contributions to the music industry go above and beyond kind of singing and kind of rapping. Actually, his directorial work has probably been some of the more shining moments in his career. Shia marked his debut as a music video director with the clip for friend Cage’s “I Never Knew You.” The clip features Dan Byrd (Easy A) stalking a woman between clips of Cage’s highly emotive and body-jerking performance. While the video is as twisted and dark as Cage’s brand of hip-hop, it feels lighter than some of Shia’s later creations.


Starring Kid Cudi and Cage

In what may be the actor/director’s Career Highlight, Shia based a short film off of the song collaboration between Kid Cudi and Cage, “Maniac.” It features the rappers speaking French and doing some gruesome things as they play two serial killers being willingly followed by a documentary film crew. It’s got the same biting snark and gore of early Tarantino films, and like Tarantino, LaBeouf steps on camera for only a minute to take a small and grotesquely memorable role.

Kid Cudi


Shia also directed the “Marijuana” video for Cudi and the final product looks like a test of every Instagram filter. It’s a simple video featuring Cudi smoking a lot of weed at Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam (way to think outside the box, LaBeouf). Dig beneath the surface of both song and video, though, and you’ll see Cudi is actually no longer saving the last dance for Mary Jane and brought an enthusiastic Shia along to document it.

Sigur Rós

“Fjögur Píanó”

Last year, atmospheric and always ~2 artsy 4 u~ Icelandic band Sigur Rós released a 16 video series that accompanied their album Valtari. This time, rather than directing the music video, Shia starred in the Alma Har’el clip for “Fjögur Píanó” alongside Denna Thomsen as a tormented couple. There’s interpretive dancing, cross-dressing, nudity, and lots of butterflies. Though it feels like an inaccessible artistic exploration at first, the video has an oddly compelling tone and Shia is captivating when scored by the piano-driven track.

Future Unlimited

“Haunted Love”

The aforementioned video that made us think back on all Shia’s strange and varied history with music is for Future Unlimited, a duo from Nashville. There are quite a few things happening in the video and all of them are terrifying. Starring LaBeouf’s current girlfriend and Nymphomaniac castmate Mia Goth, “Haunted Love” scores a Southern gothic nightmare involving a baby on fire, poison, one-armed interpretive dancing (looks like he became inspired after his project with Sigur), and a ridiculous amount of blood. We told you “I Never Knew You” was the tip of an iceberg of horror and this is proven not even a minute into the video.

Rob Cantor

“Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf”

Shia did not direct the video for or write this song. Rob Cantor of Tally Hall blessed Tumblr users everywhere by creating the most inescapable meme on the blog last year. “Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf” details an encounter with a flesh-eating Shia and doesn’t seem like a departure from the actor/director/singer/#rapgamechanger’s current visual trajectory in music. Beyond that, the track may be the most ridiculous Shia related moment since Indiana Jones 4. (OH SNAP)

Awards and nominations

Year Award Nominated work Result
2000 Young Star Award for Best Young Actor in a Comedy Series Even Stevens Nominated
2001 Young Artist Award for Outstanding Performance in a TV Comedy Series: Leading Young Actor Even Stevens Nominated
2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series Even Stevens Won
2004 MTV Movie Award Best Breakthrough Male Performance Holes Nominated
2004 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor Holes Nominated
2007 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Breakout Male Disturbia Won
2007 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Chemeistry (shared with Bumblebee) Transformers Nominated
2007 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Liplock (shared with Megan Fox) Transformers Nominated
2007 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Horror/Thriller Actor Disturbia Won
2008 BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award Won
2008 MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance Transformers Nominated
2008 MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared with Sarah Roemer) Disturbia Nominated
2009 MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance Eagle Eye Nominated
2009 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple (shared with Megan Fox) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Nominated
2010 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actor Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Nominated
2011 Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer: Movie Actor Transformers: Dark of the Moon Nominated
2011 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Actor Drama Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Nominated
2011 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple (shared with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) Transformers: Dark of the Moon Nominated
2011 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Ensemble (shared with the cast) Transformers: Dark of the Moon Nominated

Sources:  Alternative PressGoogle, Village Voice, Wikipedia, YouTube

Lineup Announced for Brooklyn’s Northside Festival 2013

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Northside Festival is Brooklyn’s Williamsburg-Greenpoint based love-in for independent musicians, filmmakers and artists celebrating the best of our city.  This year the festival runs from June 13 to 20 and is expected to attract more than 80,000 people

The New York Times announced yesterday that The Walkmen, Black Flag and Merchandise will be among about 350 bands that will play at this year’s festival, as organizers have added two free outdoor concerts and an expo to the weeklong schedule.

Now in its fifth year, Northside has become Brooklyn’s answer to the better-known South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Tex., a three-pronged event featuring an indie film festival and a music festival.   “South by Southwest should be shaking in its boots, because the Northside Festival is the new sheriff in town,” the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, said.

The organizers, Daniel and Scott Stedman, founders of the Northside Media Group, said they would  produce two free public concerts on June 15 and 16 in McCarren Park as part of this year’s event. The Walkmen will anchor the first show; a headliner for the second has yet to be announced.

“We are now at a scale where we can make it a massive event and have a lot of the programming be free to the public,” Scott Stedman said.

The list is also heavy with young rock bands that generated buzz at the CMJ Music Marathon last fall and at  South by Southwest in March, among them Merchandise, Milk Music and Mac DeMarco. Others scheduled to perform include Swans, Lambchop, Torche, the Men, White Fence and Iceage.

The film festival  will feature several New York premieres, including “All the Light in the Sky,” a 2012 film about about an aging actress directed by Joe Swanberg, and “A Teacher,” about a teacher who has an affair with a student, directed by Hannah Fidell.

Watch The Walkmen Do “Heartbreaker” On David Letterman Show
The Brooklym-based The Walkmen continue their tour of the world and beyond, and they brought the Heaven cut “Heartbreaker” to The Late Show With David Letterman. Letterman had a skateboarding goat on the show earlier, so the group had a tough act to follow (“Let’s see if these guys can skateboard” is how Letterman introduced the band). Still, “Heartbreaker” remains heartbreakingly beautiful, especially in the live setting, and this night’s renditions sounded a bit more rock-and-roll than the past. Also, lead singer Hamilton Leithauser is taller than the notoriously tall Letterman, so there’s that. Watch the fun below.

Creative Intelligence – The Creativity Post

By Greg Satell | Jan 30, 2013


Rethinking the creative process.

Albert Camus once said that “true art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.”  Henry Ward Beecher similarly wrote that “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

You don’t have to look far to find quotes like these, because art is something we consider intensely human. Art and the artist are so thoroughly intertwined that we can’t bear to think of one without the other.

For better or worse, we’re going to have to rethink this comfortable little notion.  Machine intelligence is advancing to the point where algorithms have begun to invade the world of culture and the aesthetic.  From recommendations to evaluation to the production of art itself, computers are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the creative realm.

The Search for Creative Assets

When you make a TV ad in Ukraine (as I have), you generally do it on a tight budget. You certainly don’t have the money to buy the rights to the latest hit by a big pop star or a vintage Beatles classic.  There are some local musicians who can create something for you, but thats a pretty involved effort and, to be frank, the quality isn’t worth it.

I found a good solution with DeWolfe Music, which is an online database that gives you access to thousands of songs from unknown composers and performers.  You can search by music genre, keyword (e.g. an artist that you’re trying to emulate) and tempo, quickly find what you need and license the music for a small fee.

Newer services, such as Pandora and Spotify, deploy a similar idea in order to build custom radio stations.  Rather than a human programming director choosing your music, you can just give the software some clues about what you might want to listen to and it designs a selection from a nearly infinite database to cater to your mood and preference.

This is all done through the use of complex mathematical techniques, such as Bayesian classifiers and Gaussian copulas, that recognize similarities between data sets.  So just like a sommelier might ask you what wine you typically like and offer you something similar,recommendation algorithms can do the same with music, films and even art.

Cultivating Creativity

Being able to search and find elements of art and culture is one thing, but can computers appreciate quality?

Mike McCready has shown that they can.  His company, Music X-Ray, offers a service where composers can upload their music to evaluate its hit potential and it has been shown, in many cases, to outperform professional music executives (reportedly predicting the success of Norah Jones when many industry experts were skeptical).

As crazy as the idea sounds, you’ve probably recently listened to many songs identified by the service.  Every major label now uses some version of it and they’re not alone.  Movie studios employ a similar service, called Epagogix to tell them which scripts are likely to become box office hits.

And it doesn’t stop there.  Music scholar and composer David Cope has built algorithms which create music that has drawn critical acclaim.  In fact, even music experts can’t tell the difference.  When Cope’s computer generated music was played along with a Bach piece and another original composition, they couldn’t correctly identify which was which.

What is Creativity?

As impressive as all of this is, it creates a particularly thorny, visceral problem:  If creativity can be reduced to an algorithm, doesn’t it lose its soul?

While I admit, I find something troubling in all of this as well, after thinking it through I have come to believe that artificial intelligence actually has the potential to help us appreciate creativity even more, in much the same way as Richard Feynman explains how understanding the inner workings of a flower help him acknowledge its beauty.

Our brains, in many ways, are inferior to computers.  They transmit information at the relatively feeble rate of 200 mph, vs the speed of light for computer chips.  They get tired, need nourishment, age, forget things and don’t interface with other databases of information effectively.  Objectively speaking, they are slow, inefficient and prone to error.

Their saving grace is that they are a massively parallel complex network.  They are made up of 100 billion neurons and each one can connect to any other.  These interfaces, calledsynapses, optimize themselves as they strengthen and decay with use and link to the outside world through our five senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell.

While computers have relatively few active pathways at work at any given time, we have millions, giving rise to infinite permutations of thoughts, feelings, bodily functions and sensory inputs.  Perhaps not surprisingly, these hierarchies get tangled, resulting instrange loops that manifest themselves in what we have come to know as original creativity.

As Douglas Hofstadter said, “In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.”

Rethinking the Creative Process

The creative process has always been cloaked in mystery and artistic types tend to be resistant to formality.  Nevertheless, professional individuals and organizations strive to develop an effective framework to enhance the productivity and quality of their work and creativity researchers have been able to identify some basic principles of creativity.

However, in light of the breakthroughs in machine creativity, I think that we need to revisit past thinking about creativity and identify three major processes:

Forming Intent: Every creative endeavor has its purpose.  Designers work on a brief that someone else creates while true artists form their own purpose, but in either case, the final result is, in essence, a solution to a particular problem.

For example, my purpose in creating ads was to sell a product, while Picasso’s purpose in creating cubism was to establish a fundamentally different way at looking at the world. In the final analysis, both are judged by the significance and the degree to which the original intent was fulfilled.

Searching the Domain:  As Howard Gardner explained in his highly regarded study,Creating Minds, great creativity requires a thorough knowledge of the domain.  Picasso’s cubism, for example, was inspired by his encounter with obscure African art.  The larger your database of experience, the greater your ability to create.

Computers obviously far outperform humans in this regard.  They have practically limitless memory and their vast computational power enables them to search incredibly quickly and accurately.

Tangling Hierarchies:  As I’ve written before, great breakthroughs come fromsynthesizing across domains, whether that be Picasso’s blending of European and African art or Rock and Roll’s unique fusion of various american music styles.  It is when two or more ideas collide in a meaningful way that people find inspiration and creative flow.

It is this last trick, that of emulating the strange loops in our mind, which computers have recently learned how to do, that has given rise to machine creativity.  David Cope, for example, found that his computer generated music was dull and lifeless until he injected an element of randomness into his algorithms.

Flying By Wire

Pilots don’t really fly planes anymore as much as they direct them.  These days, their controls and instruments don’t actually connect to the plane’s mechanism, but to computers which translate their intent into meaningful action.  In doing so, they make flying far safer and more efficient.

This is known as flying by wire and we don’t see anything threatening or strange about it. While at first it may seem to be a bit more disconcerting when computers start navigating the realm of abstract thought rather than the mechanics of aviation, it shouldn’t be, any more than driving a car should affect our feelings about walking.

So what makes us creative?  Our ability to form our own intent.  It is only through creating a purpose that is uniquely our own that we can fully embody the human spirit.

This post originally appeared at  DigitalTonto

Reposted by The Creativity Post

About Greg Satell:
Greg Satell is an internationally recognized authority on Digital Strategy and Innovation who has served in senior Strategy and Innovation roles for the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s premier marketing services companies. In 2012, Innovation Excellence ranked Greg #6 on their annual list of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers.  Previously, he was Co-CEO of KP Media and spent 15 years in Eastern Europe managing a variety of media businesses ranging from market leading web sites to history making news organizations to women’s and lifestyle focused media.

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